* (out of four)
Imagine if the "Paranormal Activity" films still featured loud noises and mysteriously falling pots and pans—only this time, they also included Marlon Wayans being raped by a ghost. Wouldn't that be hilarious?
No, it would not. And "A Haunted House," starring and co-written by Wayans, doesn't so much skewer the popular "Paranormal" franchise as clone it into a comedy in which farting and the word "asstraphobic" pass as jokes. Presented as unexplainable found footage from Oct. 2012, the film observes Malcolm (Wayans) and his girlfriend, Keisha (Essence Atkins), whose house appears to be haunted after she moves in. At night, text on the screen tells us the date and the time, as if doing things exactly the same way that "Paranormal Activity" does—the film also includes the oscillating fan used to scary effect in "PA3"—will make "A Haunted House" ultra-perceptive.
Other gags include a gay psychic (Nick Swardson) whose gayness is the big joke and a white couple that wants to have sex with Malcolm and Keisha. Only when the ghost seems to misspell "ghost" on a Ouija board does "A Haunted House" have fun with the ridiculous humorlessness with which these low-budget flicks approach the supernatural.
Malcolm defecating on his girlfriend's father's ashes and humping stuffed dogs? That's found footage that never should have been created in the first place.
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